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Texas history and German freethinkers.

edited October 2014 in General
While playing yesterday a couple of you were curious about a bit of Texas history that I mentioned. I'm no expert so if anyone has any inaccuracies to point out please feel free. I wish everyone that posted historical articles cited their stuff so the usual internet warnings apply.

As it turns out, Germans were the largest European ethnic group in Texas. While the nature of the Germans settling Texas was very diverse broadly, individual settlements apparently reflected different parts of German culture from that era.
"The German settlements in Texas reflected their diversity. Even in the confined area of the Hill Country, each valley offered a different kind of German. The Llano valley had stern, teetotaling German Methodists, who renounced dancing and fraternal organizations; the Pedernales valley had fun-loving, hardworking Lutherans and Catholics who enjoyed drinking and dancing; and the Guadalupe valley had atheist Germans descended from intellectual political refugees. The scattered German ethnic islands were also diverse. These small enclaves included Lindsay in Cooke County, largely Westphalian Catholic; Waka in Ochiltree County, Midwestern Mennonite; Hurnville in Clay County, Russian German Baptist; and Lockett in Wilbarger County, Wendish Lutheran. Because of their diversity, Texas Germans had a varied impact in achievements and influence in the state. They distinguished themselves in many professions and activities-Chester W. Nimitzqv in the military, Robert J. Klebergqv in ranching, Gustav Schleicher in politics, and Charles A. Schreiner in retail business. Many German settlements had distinctive architecture, foods, customs, religion, language, politics, and economy."

About 77 miles (123 kilometers) west of Austin there is a small town called Fredericksburg.,_Texas

Fredericksburg was founded by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach in 1846, and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. It was settled by a mix of liberal educated and working-class Germans that were in part escaping the social conditions that later resulted in a revolution in Germany. The settlements were organized by a company called the Adelsverein, that also had a more official name that translates to "Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas". This group was the same one that founded New Braunfels which is the "...Guadalupe valley had atheist Germans descended from intellectual political refugees" reference above.

This piece by Kenn Knopp is written with a more religious perspective but discusses the freethinker heritage.

This article by Ira Kennedy has an interesting bit on Musebach.
The Fredericksburg settlers had no support from the government when it came to interactions with the natives at the time so what did they do? They were honorable.
"On January 1847, surrounded by a few thousand Comanche, Meusebach entered their encampment and ordered his forty men to discharge their guns into the air, leaving them defenseless. This display of courage and peaceful intent inspired the Comanche to sign a treaty and induct Meusebach into the tribe. Now all that was remained was to occupy the Grant."
Related to this from wikipedia,
"The treaty was unique in that it did not take away the rights of the Penateka Comanche, but was an agreement that the Comanche and settlers would mutually share the land, co-existing in peace and friendship. Meusebach paid the Penateka Comanches $3,000, slightly less than $70,000 in today's money, in food, gifts and other commodities for their participation in the signing of the agreement. The native American signers of the treaty were only from the Penateka band. It is one of the very few treaties with native American tribes that was never broken."

Here is something from an old issue of Freethought Today.

And finally this article includes some photos of a local historical marker that talks about the freethinkers that founded Comfort Texas.,_Texas


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